• Maggie Shayne

Winter Solstice, 2011

It’s the Winter Solstice today, December 21st, the shortest day of the year, and therefore, tonight is the longest night. And like everything in our natural world, it’s a reflection of everything else.

Every holiday celebrated at this time of year centers around light. Have you noticed that? We light our homes and Christmas trees, we light the candles on the menorah. Creating light during the darkest part of the year is a natural thing to do. We humans intuitively crave light in the darkness. But our natural tendencies are only part of the reason for all the lights, fires and candle-glow of the season. The other part is pure magick–sympathetic magick, to be precise.


Our ancestors lit bonfires on the highest hills all over the countrysides on Solstice night. The light was supposed to help the sun, who symbolically dies on the longest, darkest night of the year, and is symbolically reborn the following morning. They could see that on this night each year, the sun was at its weakest point. But if it could just manage to rise tomorrow morning, it would once again begin to grow stronger. (As the days begin to grow longer beginning on the day after the Winter Solstice.) The bonfires, the candles (and our holiday lights too, today, I suppose) were supposed to lend extra power to the infant sun to help it be reborn. This reflects the notion we all still have today–that nothing will ever get done unless we do it ourselves. We humans like to feel important that way. 😉

The message of the Winter Solstice is this: Even when things appear to be dark and sort of dead, they aren’t really. Life and light are always there, maybe waiting backstage, maybe hidden in shadow, but only briefly. They always come through. Hopelessness is really just a misunderstanding. Death is an illusion. Darkness is really only a shadow cast by the sun. And all of it is temporary. When you see the Christmas lights twinkling, and the candles glowing, and the fireplaces crackling, be reminded of that beautiful message.

Every single dawn is a new beginning, but the dawn after the Solstice is one of the most powerful new beginnings of all, the biggest one of the year! If you’ve been needing a fresh start, here it is.

Tonight, then is the perfect night to write down all your bad habits or things you no longer want in your life, and then burn the paper on which you’ve jotted them, letting them go with the darkness. Don’t give them too much thought or attention. This is a ritual of letting go. Scribble quickly, don’t mull or mope. Then burn them and say goodbye. Forget about those things from then on, and turn your attention to the new things you want to bring in to replace them. Make a list of every wonderful think you want in the new year.

Tonight is the night I traditionally leave my letter to Santa out with an offering of cookies and milk. (I’ll leave it out again on Christmas Eve, cause I like to cover my bases.) It contains everything I hope for, wish for, dream of, desire and crave in the coming year.

Santa always delivers, too. I just received one of my wishes from last year’s Santa letter this past Sunday–my whole family together, including my soulmate, celebrating holidays in peace and joy. I can remember when such a thing seemed impossible. But it unfolded easily, naturally, at its own pace, in its own time, and was absolutely wonderful.

Another wish granted! Thank you, Santa. I really do believe!


What are you letting go of tonight?

What are you going to draw into your life to replace it in the coming year?

What can I do to help? (I can’t read manuscripts, folks, but I can advise, comfort, talk and listen.)

Blessed Solstice and a Peaceful Yuletide to one and all!

#maggieshayne #christmas #festivaloflight #yule #newyear #holiday #bonfires #wintersolstice

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